Liberman: Jews are losing the battle for the Negev

Liberman's comments were made while he toured Beduin settlements in the Arava, many of which are considered illegal.

Liberman in front of star of david 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mary Calvert)
Liberman in front of star of david 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mary Calvert)
Yisrael Beytenu leader MK Avigdor Liberman expressed concerns that Jews may be losing the battle for land control in Israel during a tour of the central Arava settlements on Thursday, Israel Radio reported.
"The dispute over land control has not changed since the days of 'tower and stockade,'" Liberman said.
The tower and stockade reference refers to a Turkish Ottoman law that was in effect in pre-state Israel, in which it was illegal to demolish a building that had a completed roof. Many Jewish settlements were originally founded under this rule as Hagana youths would build a new settlement under the cover of night and then defend it the next morning.
Though Israel has tried to regulate Beduin building projects by offering the Beduins certain areas in which to build, activist groups have called on the government to legalize the current settlements.
According to The Association for Civil Rights in Israel's website, many Beduins "are forced to continue living in unrecognized villages that are denied basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water."
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel has said that he is requesting from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to add the issue of legalizing Beduin settlements in the Negev to the daily construction and housing meetings.
Ari Briggs contributed to this report.
This article was amended on April 22, 2013, to remove a comment about Beduin construction in the south that was erroneously included.